June Book Group Read: Lea Dives In

Hello everybody! I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. I realize that summer doesn’t officially start until next week, but tell that to Mother Nature. It’s been very hot here for the past few days and supposed to stay that way for a few more. Much more like July weather instead of June. But rather appropriate since we are talking about a book set in Brazil!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, but truthfully, I enjoyed it way more than I ever thought I would. First off, Lea is into photography, an area that is very close to my heart! And she was heading to somewhere in South America, and I’ve had a fascination with Mexico, Latin and South America ever since my 6th grade history course where we studied it in depth. So right off the bat, things were heading in the right direction.

First, we’ll start off with the things I didn’t like. I’m still not fond of the fact that we have these kids trekking off to foreign destinations all the time when there is so much within the United States that they could see and do, plus it would be a good way to learn some more history of our country. I was also very annoyed with American Girl initially promoting her as being a girl from Brazil, but when the book came out, we learn she is only 1/8 Brazilian. I’m a larger percentage of Irish than that, yet I don’t go around identifying as such! I’m hoping if American Girl has learned nothing else over this past year, they will quit trying to sweep ethnicity under the rug. I don’t understand why, especially with the GOTY line, they are so afraid of trying to show some diversity. This was a poor excuse of trying to be ethnically aware if you ask me.

The other thing that bugged me was the professions of her parents. Her mom is an architect and her dad is a college professor. Ring any bells???? I immediately thought of Lanie, same scenario exactly! Why they had to recycle this when it really had no bearing on the outcome of the story is beyond me. Can’t anyone come up with anything original anymore?

The good parts–right off the bat I was thrilled that we didn’t have to start off with an antagonistic character in the book. In fact, there wasn’t one period, other than the issues with her brother. And I loved how that was all handled, very realistic. As a youngest sibling, I can relate to how it feels when an older one leaves home and you feel left behind. I also loved how the story tied present time events with the things she read in her grandmother’s journal. I thought it was a great way to bring everything full circle with the compass and the camera. I also loved her description of the ocean as it was spot on. I remember being completely in awe of the turquoise color of the Caribbean last year when we went to Mexico.

My favorite part was her blossoming friendship with Camila and how they ended the book with the two of them with the dress and then later at the festival. I haven’t read the other books yet, so I don’t yet know how much more we see of Camila in this series, but I much preferred their interaction over some of the other Girl Of The Year books.

Overall, I really liked the book, and was pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out. We had conflict, but not so much nastiness and hatred like Isabella. We had an exciting event and Lea discovering all sorts of challenges that she needed to overcome. I won’t give anything away just in case you haven’t read it yet, but I would definitely recommend this book over some of the other GOTY ones I’ve read. This book is slightly longer than other American Girl books which gave more opportunity to expand the story which was a big plus. And to think I wasn’t a huge Lea fan initially!

Did you like Lea Dives In? Can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinions.


11 thoughts on “June Book Group Read: Lea Dives In

  1. I, too, liked this book. When I heard it was going to be set in Brazil I thought it was going to tie in with the Olympics being in Rio that year. Maybe that would have made the book not appealing to kids reading it in a non Olympic year.

    My thoughts on Lea’s relationship with her brother was a little different than yours. Your perspective as the youngest child is different than mine as the oldest child in the family. I appreciated that she missed her brother and wanted to spend time with him. I thought at times she was a little too whiny about it. I did like that she was willing to taste something that her brother wouldn’t touch. Her brother seemed impressed that she tasted it.

    I liked the description of the ocean and the hatching of the sea turtles. That is something I would love to see but probably never will.

    I wish they would use some US destinations as the subject of the books as well. There are so many great places in the US to have an adventure. If they set one of the books in a city where they have a store they could drum up some additional sales!

  2. I do agree she was a bit whiny about the situation with her brother, even a bit obsessed. At least they did address it in a good way towards the end of the book, I liked the conversation with her mom

    I would love to see a sea turtle hatching as well! Where we go in North Carolina, there is a large population of them as well. There are all kinds of signs on the beach about not digging holes, etc so it doesn’t mess up their path to the ocean.

    US destinations have endless possibilities! Isabelle was set in Washington DC, but they barely touched the surface of things to see and do there. You could have a girl live near where the Alamo is, a story about a girl who lives near Disney World which would give an entirely different perspective than a tourist, skiing in Colorado…I could go on and on and on. And I agree completely about the idea of having them focus on stories set in towns where the dolls are. Plus for those reading from outside of the US, it might draw some tourist business here.

  3. This is my first time commenting on your blog though I have been reading (and enjoying) it for a while. I really liked all 3 of Lea’s books and highly recommend everyone read all of them. I loved the 1st two because they give a fairly realistic depiction of an American visiting South America for the 1st time and encountering the local people, animals, and environment. I enjoyed reading these books with my daughter and pointing out similarities between Lea’s experiences and my own when I was 10 yrs old and visiting S. America for the 1st time. My family and I later moved there as missionaries. We lived in Peru not Brazil, but there were definitely similarities – especially in the 2nd book. I liked Lea’s relationship with her brother and it gets much better in the 2nd book. However, I really think you guys should read Lea’s 3rd book, because it’s exactly what you said you wanted -an exploration of an American city. Lea and Camilla takes place entirely in St. Louis, MO and they spend the entire book visiting different landmarks in St. Louis. There’s also a bit of a mystery too. It’s really a great story.

    • Welcome Esther! Thanks so much for that information, now I will have to look for the other two. Your input is especially interesting since you’ve got the experience to back it up. The farthest south I’ve made it is Mexico and didn’t really get to venture out, so it’s not a great comparison.

  4. Late to the party on this one. I liked Lea Dives in, but liked the next two more! Read on, everyone, read on!

    As an only child, I could not relate completely to Lea’s relationship with her brother, but I vividly remember being unhappy and, yes, whiny about my best friend moving away and how the rest of us spent time together on the block.

    I could relate more closely to her fear of swimming in the ocean. I still have that one a bit. 🙂 Was really happy how she battled and conquered that fear.

    If you haven’t done further exploration about Lea’s story, i highly suggest you visit the author’s website. She chronicles her own trip to Brazil for research. Her photos are outstanding and would have been a wonderful addition to the books.

    • Interesting tidbit about the author, I will have to check that out! I’m like you too, I’m not wild about swimming in the ocean myself. I much prefer the confines of a pool.

  5. Totally late to the game, but I just read this book last week (as I noted on your post about Cecile). This is my first GOTY book so I don’t have much to compare it to. I grew up reading the Historical characters (primarily Samantha, Kirsten, and Felicity) and their stories seemed to have bigger “problems” then Lea. I have to agree with the others who thought her obsessing over her brother was a bit whiny as I thought the same thing while I was reading it (as I’m the oldest along with my twin sister.) But as I kept reading, I remembered that a 10 year old just doesn’t have as much control over their emotions and sense of self as we do as adults. I can remember that feeling of being left out or fixed on certain relationships with friends at that age and your whole world sort of resolves around it, so I guess I can say, it’s probably pretty accurate and younger kids will probably relate to her.
    I went to college for Zoology and studied abroad in Queensland Australia, so I can totally relate to the ocean scenes and the rain forest. I remember being so excited and in love with those settings and wanting to take photos every second I was there!
    I also did an internship in Florida at a state park where we helped with the leather back sea turtle hatching program so I could also relate to that!
    Overall, I thought it was a cute book and easy to read and it brought me back to some of my favorite memories from my 20s. Lea’s personality was so much like my own at that age, and I almost wish they could write more books on these characters as they grow into young woman to see how their personalities develop.
    Looking forward to joining the discussion on future books if you continue this series! 🙂

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